Winners of the Annual Tanka Contest 2018

Mandy's PagesIt gives me great pride to announce the winners of the Annual Tanka Contest 2018.  My apologies for the delay in the results, and I thank you immensely for your patience. 

I thank ALL of you who contested in this competition. Your skill at writing tanka, as well as your generous contributions towards this contest make it possible for me to host this every year.  I thank  Shrikaanth for being the judge, and for taking on this challenging task of choosing the winners from a fine set of tanka. (Thank you my dear friend).  My deepest gratitude to my friends / sponsors (Michael, Debbie & Hazel) who so generously contributed copies of their books towards the First Prize.  

And then of course, my heartiest congratulations to the winners of these outstanding tanka. I am constantly amazed at the dreaming room and A-ha imagery you portray in your tanka.  Congratulations! 


The Prizes


First Prize : USD 100.00 + Books (Notes from a Commode, Vol 1,  Three-Part Harmony , eggshell sky) + e-Certificate 

Second Prize: USD 50 + e-Certificate

Third Prize: e-Certificate 

(Cash prizes sponsored by Mandy's Pages)



Michael H Lester (Notes from a Commode, Vol 1)

Debbie Strange (Three-Part Harmony)

Hazel Hall (eggshell sky)


Winners of the Annual Tanka Contest 2018


(with Judging Report by Shrikaanth K. Murthy)


Firstly, I am grateful to Amanda Dcosta for giving me the honour of judging the poems. And, for her fine and steady efforts in popularizing tanka and tanka-prose, year on year. As for the judging, it certainly was very tough, even though you are reading this and probably thinking every judge says that. I suppose that is because every judge indeed feels that acutely, as I too did. There were many stunning poems and it was really hard to narrow these down. I ended up with these. Thank you all for trusting me with your poems


First Prize



damp with dew ...

their petals

falling in the stillness

of her final hours


Susan Constable

BC, Canada

 This struck me straightaway, taking my breath away with its last line, that changes the whole perspective. Now that’s what we as tanka poets often strive to achieve, not always successfully- to make every word count, and to give a whole new meaning with the latter half or even better, the last line or word. This is masterly juxtaposition.

The dampness of few suggests tears, the falling petals can be metaphorical for the shedding of mortal coils, and the stillness could be that if the hour, of the pregnant and grave atmosphere, and of the stillness of death. And yet, it could simply be none of these and just itself, and still make an impact.

This is a stunning poem- stunning in its stark imagery, in its eschewing of any excess, in its unsaid suggestions. Death brooks no frivolity. Neither does tanka.


Second Prize


a frangipani

with its sticky sap

the way

I want you

to love me


Christine L. Villa


 Another trim poem that says a lot in a few words.

There are two strands I read here- one of how “my wanting you” is sticky? And also how and how much “I want you” to love me back. Related but separate. Another interesting take for me as reader, that the author may not have made in mind, is how the sap of frangipani, which is toxic, can also be a balm for certain skin conditions. So another cautionary tale here- in small amounts, it’s all good. Make it too much, and it all goes to pot.

Isn’t this the trap into which many of us fall whilst we love? To be too close for comfort! That can leave one claustrophobic and screaming for some fresh air. This lack of space can often be the death knell to many a relationship.


Third place


a dark spot

on the winter moon

back again

from the hospital

my wife says nothing


Chen-ou Liu

Ontario, Canada

Another powerful poem that transposes the dark spot from the moon to the uncertainty the future holds. Why does the wife say nothing? Is it because the truth is too disturbing to digest? Or is it to protect the husband? Clearly, this isn’t the first time this has happened. A nice backstory to it that is left to the reader to fill in. Tanka sing stories, and they also offer lot of contemplative space to the reader


Honourable Mentions


a knot of sparrows

rearrange themselves

on the power line ...

I wait for you

to change your mind


Julie Bloss Kelsey

Maryland, USA

This is a fine tanka. The knot suggesting a knot in the relationship, that needs untangling. Were it that simple! Here too, the last line brings a rather unexpected angle. There is just the wait for someone in line 4, but the last line changes the reason for that wait. The poem is somewhat marred by the incorrect grammar in line 2. A knot is singular, even though the sparrows are many. So line 2 should have been “rearranged itself”. An error easily made.


dark-capped night heron

intent blue beaked

my mother's eyes

hungry that last night

before she flew


Kathabela Wilson



Another stirring poem for me! What was the mother’s eyes hungry for? Freedom, love, Care, understanding, punishment? Take your pick. Here too, the last line takes the poem to a new level. I would have preferred the use of some appropriate punctuation in line 2. Also, the correct name for the bird is Black-capped/ Black-crowned Blue Heron.